It’s a book. Not a boy or girl. I am the father of two daughters. Writing and publishing a book was more like becoming a mother. It stayed with or rather within me for nearly a year, when I keyed in the novel, usually after a long day working, earning my livelihood, again mostly on the laptop.
The book incubated longer than I expected. I sat on it for many months as finding a publisher was tough. Reactions were similar though conveyed in different standard polite answers — “It is tremendous, but.’’ “It is lovely, but.’’ It is exhilarating, but.’’
I easily guessed the unsaid bits: “you are no Rowling, Rushdie, Brown, Seth or Bhagat. Not a cricketer, film star, retired army chief, IB head or spiritual guru zealously followed on TV channels. Not a banned author. No fatwa against you. No sex scandal. Not a gay. Who will buy your book but your mom and dad? And that’s just one copy between the two. Maybe a cousin or two more may pay for it. Maybe you should Twerk naked. That could work.’’
Then, miraculously it did happen. Someone was willing to take the risk. Matters moved quickly here on. It was surely a proud moment when the baby arrived wrapped in white courier plastic sheets. As all new parents know, there isn’t a moment’s respite after the much celebrated arrival of the infant. The nights and days are a blur of burps, vomits, potty and susu. It is the occasional smile and gurgle that makes it all worthwhile, despite the bleary eyes.
I too had a big task in hand. What does one do with a book that nobody buys or reads? I mean readers sensibly pre-order Rowling, Bhagat, Rushdie, Tripathi or Seth. A wait list for the latest iPhone is very understandable. Advance booking for a Salman Khan movie is permissible.
Then multiple other distractions co-exist to amuse, entertain and provoke the dwindling breed of readers. Youtube spoofs on politicians and Arnab Goswami proliferate. Arvind Kejriwal had a night out outside Parliament about the time my book was born.
Then, Virat Kohli scored another century, increasingly making Sachin Tendulkar’s monumental one day record seem like a mole hill. Along side Virat is also dating Anushka Sharma who got herself a lip job around time that my book was supposed to be picking up sales. Who would be interested, when Anushka’s lips are in focus? Those not into Anushka could be hooked by itsy bitsy Sunny Leone doing her Ragini MMS number.
Wendy Doniger’s book, meanwhile, got banned, catapulting her to top trending status on Facebook, Twitter, alongside usual Kohli, Modi, Bachchan, Gandhi, Leone, Kejriwal, the hot list giants. The world today is divided between those who have downloaded Doniger and those who have not.
Happily, some sensible people have bought my book as well. Who else but my parents, wife’s family, school, college mates, friends and colleagues? I salute them. These are very generous and large-hearted folks. I hope they enjoyed reading the book.
The numbers of course add up to nothing in terms of royalties or below average bestseller figures. But, like all mothers I have full faith in my kid who will one day overtake Rowling, Seth, King and Brown put together. My labor of love will surely be rewarded.
(Check out my book An Offbeat Story (paperback) here, described by a prominent book critic as one of the most humorous and entertaining reality fiction novel by an Indian writer. Ebook). BTW, the book is showing up on some best seller lists and this cannot be just due to friends and relatives, making me a prouder mom.)